Lantern file photo
Last year, the City of Columbus turned 200. In anticipation, the city government came together with civic leaders to ensure the year 2012 was marked not just by a birthday, but by a new Columbus. Part of this revitalization was the building of the Hilton Downtown Convention Hotel – a project that will cost about $140 million.
Columbus then set aside $1.4 million to use from parking meter revenues if needed. In 2010, the Parking Meter Advisory Team was convened to put forth a recommendation as to how that $1.4 million could be raised annually – by updates to the city’s parking meter system. The final report put forth those propositions which currently dictate the OSU area meters.
Recommendation No. 5 of the report states: “Near, (Ohio State) … add a limited number of 30-minute meters, and add 2-hour meters to 15th Avenue.” This is intended to aid local businesses, as is Recommendation No. 1: “Add over 400 meters to serve key neighborhoods including OSU Campus … adding meters where feasible and in support of area businesses.”
Each street east of campus bears this same phenomenon. The report explains these meters are intended to aid businesses by keeping local parking from taking spots that patrons of the area otherwise have access to.
Taking a walk down 15th Avenue, you find parking meters in front of Greek and student housing. Greek establishments might be entertaining enough, yet they are in no way businesses the city seeks to support.
One could argue that these meters are not a burden upon the OSU community, but rather a means of allowing students an alternative to campus parking permits.
This argument fails to recognize the manner in which this additional revenue is a means of placing a tax upon a population which historically doesn’t participate in elections and which does not originate from the locality, so that the city itself can pay for an item that arguably only marginally benefits the average OSU student.
According to the admissions’ website, about 25 percent of this year’s almost 7,200 new undergraduate students come from the other 49 states and from countries around the world. In economic terms, this is a form of revenue labeled “tax exportation.”
Rather than placing the cost directly upon the users of the convention center, or adding a timeline to remove the additional meters, the report adds that these additional meters should become permanent Columbus revenue generators intended to benefit the city and not the campus.
It is indeed difficult to see why the city would have any incentive to remove these meters to the benefit of “We the Students.” These meters have become a source of revenue to the city, a form of taxation placed literally upon the rest of the world. Last I checked, there has yet to be a space dedicated to the OSU student at the downtown Hilton.